Our Melbourne Beach Blog

Dianne’s Room

Romantic Florida GetawayOn the west side of the main house at our romantic Florida getaway is a lovely little room that we call “Dianne’s Room”. Dianne Blackwood was the only daughter of Walter and Ella Belle Brown. She was born April 13, 1913 in Liverpool, England and grew up in the house at Port d’Hiver.

In an essay published in Frank Thomas’ book Melbourne Beach: The First 100 Years by 19 Townspeople, Dianne Blackwood (maiden name, Brown) wrote that her father, Walter Brown, first became acquainted with Melbourne Beach around the turn of the century when he worked as an instructor for the Kentucky Military Institute which had a winter campus in Eau Gallie, a small town just a few miles north of Melbourne Beach around 1906.

In 1912 Walter and Elle Belle Brown moved to England for a few years while Walter worked for Morgan Guaranty Trust in commodities, specifically flour. In the 1920s, Walter, Ella Belle and Dianne came back to Melbourne Beach and rented a small upstairs apartment from Mrs. Trowbridge, the town’s postmistress, and a short time later purchased the cypress house across the street from the casino (now Sand on the Beach Restaurant) and Ella Belle named the house Port d’Hiver.

romantic getaway in Florida Dianne’s Room in the Main House

Dianne attended old Melbourne High School, married Harry Blackwood and, as a young girl, taught Sunday school at the historic Melbourne Beach Community Chapel right here on Ocean Avenue. To this day there is a room in the Sunday School building with a plaque over the door that bears her name. Here is a picture Dianne’s daughter Mimsy shared with us of her mom Dianne when she was 15 years old with her father Walter, 1928.

Romantic Florida Bed and Breakfast

Dianne with her father in 1928

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Room Size: What’s the Difference?


One of the most common questions we get here at our romantic Florida getaway when a new guest calls for information is, “What’s the difference between Walter’s Room and the Sunrise Room?” The answer is simple really, it’s just the size.

Walters Room Melbourne Florida B&B
Walter’s Room is our smallest with 153 sq. ft. inside and a big 208 sq. ft. deck


Melbourne Beach Inn Walter Brown House
Our Melbourne FL Bed and Breakfast is made up of four buildings. The Main House was built in 1916 as a classic American Foursquare structure. This building is called the Historic Walter Brown House and is the cornerstone of our Melbourne beach inn. The 3 guest rooms in this building are named after the Brown family: Walter, his wife Ella Belle and daughter Dianne.

romantic florida getaway walter brown house

Because this building is almost 100 years old, these guest rooms are by far the smallest at Port d’Hiver, but they are also our favorites with lovely 1920’s charm and all the modern amenities found in the new Cabana rooms. Plus, you just can’t beat that big wrap around ocean view deck that Ella Belle and Walter’s Rooms share!

romantic florida getaway breakfast

In 2007, we built the North and South Cabanas and put the second floor on the Carriage House.  All of these new rooms are big, beautiful, especially private and each one has an oversize jetted tub, lots of closet space and its own porch that’s perfect for lounging around with a good book or sharing a romantic breakfast for two.  To reflect the style of the historic house, we used lots of reclaimed material when building these structures like the antique heart of pine floors and the big hand hewn beams you find on Creole’s ceiling that are from an old barn in Pennsylvania.

For those of you who love numbers as much as Mike, below is a chart with the square footage for each of the rooms in our Melbourne Florida bed and breakfast including the guest room with bath but not the deck space.  We hope this helps to answer some of your questions.  Enjoy!

melbourne beach bed and breakfast footage

“My husband and I stayed for 2 nights in the Dianne room for our “babymoon.” Never having stayed at a B&B before, we didn’t really know what to expect, but this place blew us away with hospitality and comfort. From the moment we arrived, we felt so relaxed and pampered. The room was a little small, but it didn’t bother us one bit. (I think ours was the smallest and least expensive of all the rooms.) The property is gorgeous, the staff is warm and accommodating, and the food was delicious. Totally worth the money. I hope we can go back some day!” Tripadvisor, One Word…Amazing,   April 16 2012 review

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Popping the Question at Port D’Hiver

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”   Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice

melbourne beach bed and breakfast flowers  

At 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, Scott and Allison, two new young guests from Elkridge, Maryland, bustled in the front door of Port d’Hiver with bags in hand ready to check-in for a relaxing & romantic Florida getaway. We shook hands, introduced ourselves and after signing in, took the grand tour together.  First, where to find the cookies (always everyone’s favorite stop!), then I showed them where the snack room is, how to turn the bubbles on in the spa pool and where to find the beach towels, chairs and coolers.

We chatted about wine hour and breakfast as we carried their bags up to the Sunrise Room. When I opened the door Allison was so excited to see the purple alstroemeria and white roses on her beside stand, their ocean view and the welcome card on the bed with their names on it.

romantic florida getaway beach

A little while later at about 4:55, Erika was pulling the spinach ring out of the oven getting ready for wine hour at five when Scott popped his head in the kitchen door and frantically whispered that he was planning to propose and needed to know how he should do it and fast before Allison showed up for a glass of wine.

romantic florida getaway candleBeing a quick thinker, Erika whispered back, “If I were you, after wine hour I’d walk down and see the sunset on the river in front of Djon’s, then go in for dinner and a little live music over dessert. Afterwards, you should walk back to the beach and pop the question under the moon. While you’re out we’ll set up the Romance Package with roses petals, candles, champagne and music as a surprise for when you get back.”

The next morning over breakfast, Allison and Scott (who I would guess are about the same age as our oldest daughter Jade) sat out in the courtyard of our Melbourne Beach Inn under the Allamanda flowers looking so happy they shined and our other guests couldn’t help but notice that something special was going on. Allison enthusiastically shared a detailed account of how romantic and wonderful  and perfect Scott’s proposal had been.

As I poured coffee, Allison showed us her beautiful new platinum engagement ring with its princess cut stone and tiny Pave diamonds and told us that it was exactly what she always wanted. She explained that her mom had a very “dated” looking gold wedding set with marquise cut stone and matching band that had little baguettes on the sides and she was really glad she didn’t get one like that because it was so “eighties” and out of style but she just didn’t have the heart to tell her mom because her mom is so great. I smiled and told her how incredibly beautiful and timeless her ring is and how cute the two of them are together and how proud their parents must be and took their breakfast order.

romantic florida getaway baguette ringThings got a little tricky after that because I had to do everything with one hand, since my left stayed in my pocket. Here is a picture of Mike and my wedding rings on our wedding day baguettes and all. Ha! Dated or not we still love them and love being innkeepers at such a romantic Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast too!


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Surf Contests and Art Festivals in April

On Florida’s Space Coast, spring is the perfect time for surf contests, live music, great food and art festivals. April 6 – 8th is the 48th Annual Easter Surf contest in Cocoa Beach.

melbourne beach inn florida surf contest

Or, join us April 28 – 29 and visit  historic downtown Melbourne for the 28th Annual Melbourne Art Festival. Ranked 37th best art show in the nation, Saturday morning begins with a 5K run over the Indian River Lagoon at 7 am and the weekend’s entertainment schedule features a variety of talented local musicians and a free concert by the Georgia Satellites at 7:30 pm Saturday.

Historic downtown Melbourne is a fun little walking district with terrific restaurants, pubs, bakeries, antique shops and boutiques just a short 10 minute drive across the river from our Melbourne Beach Inn. They also have a free shuttle to the Festival this year from the beach with pick up and drop off at the shopping center just two miles north of Port d’Hiver on A1A.

Everyone here in Melbourne Beach looks forward to the Art Festival each April because they bring in so many talented artists and performers each year! As a matter of fact, we searched high and low for an artist to create just the right Port d’Hiver map and as soon as we saw Mike’s booth and all his beautiful art work at last year’s Festival we knew he was just the guy to represent our special little island for us. Great job Mike!

bed and breakfast melbourne fl map

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Treasure Hunting at the Beach near our Romantic Florida Getaway

“WHEN I had done breakfasting the squire gave me a note addressed to John Silver, at the sign of the Spy-glass, and told me I should easily find the place by following the line of the docks and keeping a bright lookout for a little tavern with a large brass telescope for sign. I set off, overjoyed at this opportunity…”   Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson 

Romantic Florida GetawayEvery morning last week at 8 am sharp, Jenn and Jeff, two of our favorite return guests, would arrive in the dining room looking healthy and happy, smelling like suntan lotion and ready to start their day. After eating a hearty breakfast and swapping stories with us here in the kitchen at our romantic Florida getaway, off they would go with a treasure hunting plan heading south along the beach with a twinkle in their eye, a cooler full of drinks from our snack room, two good hats, a book for Jenn, and Jeff’s trusty metal detector.

1715 Spanish FleetIn 1715, a fleet of Spanish Galleons traveled north along the east coast of Florida for Spain. Not one of the ships made it, but instead sunk off the coast right here between Cape Canaveral and Vero Beach and Florida beachgoers have been finding treasures washed up along our sandy stretch ever since.

For those not as adventurous as Jeff and Jenn, McClarty Treasure Museum is located on the National Historical Landmark Site of the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet Survivors’ & Salvaging Camp just a little south of Sebastian Inlet State Park on A1A, and is a great place to see some of the Spanish treasure found along the beaches. They have all kinds of coins, jewelry, tools, pottery, religious artifacts and it’s just a fun place to spend an interesting afternoon.

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No Doilies Here…

“Bed and breakfasts have faced more typecasting than Adam West, and for good reason,” says Steve Garbarino in The Wall Street Journal. “For every rave scribbled in a needlepoint guest book, there are just as many horror stories about a weekend in a Victorian ‘gem’ or ‘rustic’ farmhouse crammed with dried flowers and figurines, presided over by an omnipresent, rule-obsessed caretaker.”

One my favorite things about being an innkeeper at our Melbourne Beach B&B is that almost every single day we have a good belly laugh with a guest who shares their good humor and funny story with us either at breakfast or wine hour, or as they pass through to get a cookie on the way to the beach.

But it’s not just the guests who are funny. This week in Little Rock, Arkansas innkeepers from around the nation are attending the annual PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers) conference. These busy and creative folks are attending educational classes, sharing innovative tips for pampering guests, brainstorming new and creative ideas for breaking through that “Old Ladies and Doilies” stereotype and getting the good word out through the Better Way to Stay campaign.

Romantic Florida Getaway
















Even though the main house at Port d’Hiver was built in 1916, we are proud to say the living room at our romantic Florida getaway is 100% Doily free!

Check out the Better Way to Stay’s latest video “Death to Doilies” for a little taste of quirky innkeeper humor.

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What’s in a name?

That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.” –Juliet

Romantic Getaway in Florida

The Havana Room: When I was a kid my grandfather John always had a fat brown cigar tucked in the front pocket of his shirt or in the corner of his mouth. I don’t think he ever actually lit them, at least not in front of us, because my grandmother Hilda didn’t like him to smoke. All through elementary school my little sister June and I used his empty cigar boxes for our crayons. The boxes were yellow and had a beautiful exotic looking lady with long brown hair on the lid.

The sleigh bed in the Havana Room at our romantic Florida getaway is woven from thin brown papers in various shades from the abaca plant. We loved it as soon as we saw it.

The Havana Room is named after my grandfather, his cigars and the beautiful lady on the top of our crayon boxes.

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Holiday Rum Cake Recipe

Holiday parties are in full swing, so we thought you might like one of our favorite recipes from Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast to sweeten up your loved ones this holiday season!

Cocoa Beach Bed and Breakfast

Rum Cakes                                                                 

1 cup finely chopped pecans                             1 box yellow cake mix

1 box French Vanilla instant pudding                 4 eggs

½ cups water                                                     ½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup spiced rum


¼ cup water                                                      ½ cup butter

1 cup sugar                                                       ½ cup spiced rum

Spread chopped pecans over bottom of a greased Bundt pan, or we like to use a pretty shaped muffin tin and make individual little rum cakes. In a bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, ½ cup rum, oil and ½ cup water. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into pan, fill cups ½ full. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Let cool 30 minutes. Mix and heat glaze ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Pour over cakes covering sides until all liquid is absorbed. Red sprinkles add a little extra holiday sparkle.

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Catch the Holiday Spirit at Port d’Hiver!

Besides the beautiful weather, salty breezes, our bubbly spa pool and cozy fire, there are lots of fun things to do here at the beach to get you in the holiday spirit! While the staff at Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast busily strings the lights and decks the halls, here are a few cool ideas to help start your holiday season off right.

Kenney Space Center just announced their special holiday event, Holidays in Space. From November 23 – January 1, KSC will be decked out in their best holiday finery. Mrs. Claus will tell stories, they will have international holiday cookies and space carolers. This sounds like a fun and unique way to get in the holiday spirit!

Cocoa Beach Bed and Breakfast

Like to shop? Twinkling for the holidays, historic downtown Melbourne is lots more fun than the mall! With quaint boutiques, specialty stores and antiques shops, there are lots of great places to stop for lunch and glass of wine. If you go in the evening you are sure to find live music at Matt’s Casbah and Meg O’Malleys. We are keeping our ear out for this year’s official announcement, but in past years Friday nights from 5 – 9 PM downtown Melbourne was the place to be for candlelight shopping, musicians, choirs, carolers, entertainers and horse drawn carriage rides.

Want to see a classic holiday show? December 2- December 18, 2011 the historic Henegar Center has Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical. Kris Kringle will take on the cynics among us in this musical adaptation of the popular holiday favorite. In his inimitable style, Meredith Willson, the author of “The Music Man” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” tells the classic story of the year.

Best of all, the first weekend in December is Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfastour very own Christmas Parade right here on Ocean Avenue. This is small town celebrating at its best and one of our favorites! The parade begins at the river, travels toward the ocean and turns around right in front of our Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast. Lots of homemade floats, tiny kids in decorated wagons, local talent, cheerleaders, candy toss, and more. This is definitely not your Macy’s Day parade. Here in Melbourne Beach we like to keep things old school. Mayberry is more our style!

Cocoa Beach Bed and BreakfastDrive through the Space Coast Light Fest at Wickham Park from November 23 to December 31. An event to brighten the holiday spirit. A drive through holiday festival of lights including Santa and Mrs. Claus, his sleigh and reindeer, toy soldiers, elves, circus animals, holiday trees and wreaths, tunnel of lights, and much more!

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Port d’Hiver Appreciates our Troops!

Veterans Day is coming up this month and the folks here at Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast want to say thank you to all of those brave folks who serve our country. We’ve had lots of guests the last year or so who have visited with us, either just before shipping out or right after returning home, and we are always humbled to hear their devotion and grateful that they chose to spend time with us. As a token of our appreciation, for 4 weeks beginning Sunday October 23, 2011, we’re giving away one complimentary night per week to a vet who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and one guest.

So far it’s going great! On week one, we were honored to have a visit from our first fun couple, Hugh and Lauren who stayed in the Windward Suite. The Windward Suite is one of our most romantic rooms with red walls and that big canopy bed. This weekend we have the classically beachy Indian River Room all ready for our second couple, Kevin and Sharon with plenty of activities for them to enjoy if they like such as the Third Annual Cocoa Beach Air Show, the Goo Goo Dolls in concert at the King Center and Absolute Blue live at Sand on the Beach right across the street. On week three, the Creole Room will be the relaxing setting for our third couple with its extra luxurious spa tub and cool cedar ceiling and finally, it’s back to the romantic Windward Suite again on week four.

Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast

While overall the response to our “Port d’Hiver Appreciates our Troops!” giveaway has been positive, we have had several emails from Veterans who felt excluded by this year’s offer. Yesterday we received this email from John L., a 22 year Vietnam Veteran, who asked, “Have you thought of doing something similar for Vietnam War veterans?”

In response, we want to say to all Veterans that we apologize if this year’s offer made you feel excluded in any way. We deeply appreciate your sacrifice and truly appreciate your devotion and bravery. Last year our free room offer was open to any veteran regardless of where or when time was served. This year we wanted to help those folks with the most immediate need.

If you visit “Better Way To Stay” you will find a large selection of inns who offer free rooms on 11/10/2011 to vets. This is strictly a voluntary effort and B&Bs are, by definition, small properties with innkeepers who have big hearts. They don’t have hundreds of rooms to offer like the large hotels, but I think among this list you will find a welcoming and warm place to spend a relaxing getaway. Best of luck and thanks for writing.

Freedom rocks!

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